Photo: Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service, Thomas L. Wellborn, Jr.
 DEADLY PARASITE: Myxobolus cerebralis causes whirling disease, a trout-killing infection that is devastating in some wild trout populations.

In a Quonset hut dubbed the "parasite factory" on the University of California's sprawling Davis campus, the bed in a tankful of water is strewn with what looks like snippets of rusty thread: worms that harbor a deadly European parasite called Myxobolus cerebralis. It causes whirling disease, which has infected rainbow trout in 23 states in the United States, virtually wiping out the species in some of the West's best fishing waters. Researchers who have struggled for years to understand and control the problem are finally seeing the outlines take shape of a strategy to solve it. Through multifaceted collaborations, they have pieced together the highly complex life cycle of the parasite, including interactions with its two hosts, worms and...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?